UEFA Champions League Draw. (By Betfair.com)

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UEFA Champions League Draw: Tricky Italian jobs for Man Utd, Arsenal and Chelsea

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By Betfair.com


Richard Aikman of Betfair talks us through this afternoon's Champions League draw where three out of the four English teams have drawn Serie A teams and favourites Barcelona will be locking horns against perennial dark horses Lyon.




England's finest have been dealt difficult ties in the next stage of the Champions League as Manchester United face Inter Milan, Liverpool meet Real Madrid, Chelsea take on Juventus and Arsenal go head to head with Roma in the first knockout round next spring..
Sir Alex Ferguson will once again have to pit his wits against José Mourinho after the reigning champions were rewarded for winning their group with probably the toughest match of all.
Failure to end Inter Milan's 44-year wait for the European crown is the main reason coach Roberto Mancini was replaced in the summer by José Mourinho, who knocked out Ferguson's United on the way to winning the Champions League with Porto in 2004, and now Mourinho will need to be at his tactical best to once more outwit the three-time European champions.
Mourinho's Nerazzurri continue to take Serie A by storm this season but their European campaign has so far disappointed. Despite finding themselves in one of the easier qualifying groups, Inter, who are 8.6 to win the tournament outright, limped into the knockout stages, segueing a 3-3 draw at Anorthosis Famagusta with defeats against Panathinaikos and Werder Bremen. Mourinho will relish this chance opportunity to outfox Fergie again, though, and Zlatan Ibrahimović, Esteban Cambiasso and Marco Materazzi are among the dangermen United will have to watch. United have slipped from second to third-favourites 7.8 as a result of the draw.
After being pitted against Lyon, favourites Barcelona are into 4.7 from 5.4 and justifiably so. Their impressive displays in both Spain and Europe undoubtedly made the Blaugrana the one side both Chelsea and Arsenal were praying to avoid.
Pep Guardiola's side already stand eight points clear at the top of the Primera Liga and have been just as breathtaking in Europe, scoring a staggering 18 goals to date - four more than the second-highest goalscorers Lyon. Barça's star performer so far has been Lionel Messi, who is the favourite to top score at 5.1 after netting five times, the same number as Steven Gerrard (8.0), Bayern Munich's Miroslav Klose (13.0) and Karim Benzema of Lyon (14.5).
There will also be a reunion for Juventus coach Claudio Ranieri, who faces the very side who sacked him in favour of Mourinho four years ago. Ranieri has since restored his reputation by guiding the Bianconeri into the Champions League in the first season back in Serie A, following their enforced relegation two seasons ago, and they now lie second in the Italian top-flight despite a panoply of injuries that has deprived them of as many as 11 first-team players this season.
Ranieri's side, out to 24.0 from 20.0 following the draw surprised many by topping a group including Real Madrid and FC Zenit St Petersburg. Along with Manchester United FC, the Old Lady of Italian football has the best defensive record in the tournament, having leaked just three goals; a feat all the more impressive for an injury crisis that has claimed the likes of Gianluigi Buffon in goal and attacking threats David Trezeguet and Vincenzo Iaquinta. Chelsea are int 7.6 from 8.4 but they will need to watch out for Alessandro Del Piero, whose four strikes in the competition so far puts him one goal behind the leading scorers. Pinturicchio is 18.0 to win the golden boot.
After winning a group including Atlético Madrid, Liverpool must return to the Spanish capital this campaign after drawing the club that have won the trophy more than anyone else. Nine-times European champions they may be, but this season the prospect of facing Real Madrid (15.0) will not cow the Reds (13.0) as Los Merengues have endured an uncharacteristically unsettling season.
Real replaced coach Bernd Schuster with Juande Ramos last week, suffered their fourth reverse in five matches to Barça last weekend and currently find themselves 12 points behind the league leaders in the Spanish standings. They came second in their Champions League group but were twice beaten by Juventus and, without the injured Ruud van Nistelrooy and Mahamadou Diarra are struggling to show anything like the form we know and fear.
Arsenal (16.5) will feel that they have got off lightly by being drawn to face Roma, even if Luciano Spaletti's side did pip Chelsea to top their section. Few would have expected the Giallorossi [26] to qualify from their group, let alone win it, after losing two of their first three group matches. But a remarkable revival courtesy of three straight wins over Chelsea, CFR Cluj and Bordeaux saw them finish top of Group A against the odds.
The return from injury of Francesco Totti has helped revive the fortunes of a club that are already out of a Serie A title race in which they lie 16 points adrift of Inter already. However, with the final set to take place in Rome this year, many Romans fans believe that they are destined to make a home appearance on May 27, much as they did back in 1984, when they lost on penalties to Liverpool.


Champions League draw
Chelsea v Juventus
Villarreal v Panathinaikos
Sporting Lisbon v Bayern Munich
Atletico Madrid v FC Porto
Lyon v Barcelona
Real Madrid v Liverpool
Arsenal v Roma
Inter Milan v Manchester United
Ties to be played on February 24/25 and March 10/11.


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